Superintendent's Letter - July 8, 2020
Dear Dock Students and Parents,
I hope you are doing well this summer and finding time to connect with your family and friends. Dock’s staff continues to prepare for next year while individually taking time away from the school office.
Thanks to the many parents who responded to our survey. Your input is greatly appreciated and helpful as we discern steps moving forward toward our fall reopening. It is clear from your responses some of you would be grateful if we could begin this fall with minimal restrictions. Others have concerns about school beginning again and whether you will feel safe depending on the decisions made. We continue to invite your input and suggestions in the weeks ahead.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has published a strong statement in favor of bringing students back this fall “wherever and whenever that can be done safely.” This is our desire at Dock as well. As I mentioned in my last letter, information and guidance regarding the beginning of school this fall continues at a rapid pace. Governor Wolf, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the PIAA all are actively evaluating data and making recommendations for our schools. We expect advice to change frequently before school starts in August.
The Pandemic Team continues to meet regularly as we discern the path forward. Our team is an administrative team that relies on the medical advice from sources such as CDC, PDE, PIAA, Governor Wolf’s office, and local medical professionals to help us lower the medical risk for our students this fall. We will continue to monitor and evaluate these recommendations that will shape our final plan. Last week we began preparing the 2020/21 school Health and Safety plan that will be reviewed by medical professionals, faculty, and approved by the Dock Board of Trustees. The recommendation of wearing face coverings will likely be clarified throughout the summer.
We opened our summer camps this week with modifications to lower the risk for students. The camp classes have been going well. Our athletic department has developed a Health and Safety Plan based on advice from PIAA and other sources. The plan has been approved by the Dock Board of Directors and has allowed our student athletes to begin practicing with safety modifications.
The Pandemic Team believes it is best for students to return to Dock’s campuses if we can do that safely. We also want to be sensitive to students and families who may be uncomfortable learning in person beginning in August. We are considering both on-campus and stay-at-home options for next year, pending the guidance we receive. Tomorrow you will receive a survey asking several questions regarding our fall opening. Please watch for the survey. Your response will greatly help us plan for this fall.
We appreciate your patience with this unusual process. We understand that everyone wants to know details of what this fall will bring. We will continue to work as quickly as we can, while being patient as additional guidance is processed. We learned through the process of planning our commencement program this spring that patience before making final decisions may allow us to open in a way that more families will appreciate. Our flexibility as a small and nimble school is helpful to that end.
I trust you will find joy in these weeks ahead. Look for the amazing things God is doing and showing us! We are so honored to join with you in this challenging journey for Dock Mennonite Academy.
Dr. Conrad Swartzentruber